From The Straits Times    |

Ramya Ragupathi, owner of Oh My Goodness! (a food company that produces gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free food), doesn’t believe in “getting used” to seemingly minor discomforts like the occasional headache and mild flatulence. According to her, all these signs point towards a hidden food allergy.

“Your body will show you signs and when that happens, you should start taking note of the food that doesn’t sit well with your body,” she says.

Ramya is a ‘free-from’ specialist, meaning she doesn’t bake with products that include wheat, dairy and gluten. And no, she’s not trying to jump on the healthy food bandwagon that’s so popular these days. In fact, the 38 year-old entrepreneur started her business simply because of her food allergies and intolerances.

And although she never intended to become an entrepreneur, she decided to enter the F&B scene after meeting people who were suffering from the same problems as her – if you have a gluten or dairy intolerance (or worse, both), you’ll have to forsake staples like bread and pasta.

“When I was working in the UK, I started prepping my own food. And I decided to go gluten-free because I was sensitive to wheat and dairy. I really missed cake and chocolate. So, I started experimenting. The first successful dish I ever made was my original chocolate cake,” she mused, when asked on how she started her ‘free-from’ cooking journey.

PS, I got to try her pandan cake and it was way fluffier than expected (it was pretty much magic). And good news to all the sweet-toothed gals out there, this pandan cake isn’t a bland version of the hard-to-match original. There’s also no artificial taste to it – I was literally biting down into a cloud of fragrant pandan.

So we got her to share her top tips on how to improve our dietary habits.


1. Eliminate foods

“Just start eliminating food that doesn’t work for you. I go on a 14-day detox about once a year to reset my body.”

There are many ways to detox, but the easiest way to start is to remove all forms of processed foods from your diet. There are lots of options – use flax seed egg if you don’t want to use eggs, or use maple syrup instead of refined sugar. And be warned, there will be an obvious difference.

After the detox process, your body will be much more alert. If you ingest food that irritated your body previously, you’ll probably get a bigger reaction this time (read: an allergic reaction.) So cut your suffering off at that point by taking that ingredient out of your diet.


2. Educate yourself

“Many Singaporeans don’t know they’re allergic to wheat and dairy, and because the discomfort they experience is temporary, they just ‘live with it’. I lived with it for a good 10 plus years.”

Let’s all face it, we’re impatient people and we want things done quickly and most importantly, at a low cost. So we don’t actually bother to care about what we’re putting into our bodies. All the bloating and sinus reactions, if they don’t last for more than a day, we forget about them. Time to start reading food labels.

And because gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free foods aren’t the cheapest, people don’t want to go down that path. And that’s what Oh My Goodness! is here for. (On their site: a rich and moist chocolate cake for $39, minus all the digestion problems? That’s as good as it can get.)


3. Experiment with natural ingredients

“I can live off the entire Oh My Goodness’ line. All the food I make, it’s gone through more than a few failed experiments. Now, I’m trying to nail the gluten-free pizza dough because I really miss Italian food.”

Ramya never stops experimenting. And you shouldn’t too. After all, you’ll feel better if you know what’s going into your food.

Oh My Goodness! will also be churning out a whole line of vegan sweets soon (all gluten-free and refined sugar-free as well). Kale it with kindness, am I right?